Samson Evans

Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

fotis.png

Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

With four weeks of IHSA football in the books, let's take a look at some of my early candidates for Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Chicagoland area (in no particular order):

Homewood-Flossmoor RB Justin Hall (Sr.): The NIU verbal commit was able to showcase his ability last Friday to a live TV audience in the Vikings' 48-20 win over Bolingbrook (3-1). Hall, who is averaging 9.5 yards per carry so far for the 4-0 Vikings, is able to break tackles, has exceptional speed and remains one of the most versatile (RB/WR/DB/KR/PR) athletes in the state. 

Prairie Ridge QB Samson Evans (Sr.): Evans, who is verbally committed to Iowa, runs the option offense for the 4-0 Wolves. He remains the focal point of every opposing defense this season. Evans is averaging nearly nine yards per carry, an almost unheard-of number for an option-running quarterback. 

Lake Zurich RB/LB Joey Stutzman (Sr.): Stutzman (5-foot-7, 170 pounds) is, pound for pound, one of the toughest players you'll find in Chicagoland this season. Stutzman gives the Bears' offense a big play threat on every carry. He is also a key cog on a nasty defensive unit that has allowed just 16 points in four games.

Loyola Academy QB Quinn Boyle (Sr.): Boyle has quickly developed into the Ramblers' main weapon so far this season and has been very strong leading Loyola's shotgun read-option offense. Boyle's running ability along with his accurate arm has allowed a banged-up Ramblers running attack time to heal up early this season. 

[MORE: Week Five Power Rankings]

Maine South RB Fotis Kokosioulis (Sr.): Kokosioulis has been one of the most productive players in Illinois over the past two-plus seasons for the defending 8A state champion Hawks. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar, whose team was able to limit Kokosioulis' yards in the Griffins' 28-26 win in Week 2 admitted, "We definitely had to find a way of slowing down number 41 (Kokosioulis) because he's a tremendous high school player."

Lincoln-Way East QB Brendan Morrissey (Sr.): The Griffins are undoubtedly one of Chicagoland's deepest teams. A number of players from their roster could be considered for Player of the Year. But Morrissey, a concerted running back from a season ago, has run the LW-East offense with a mix of poise, confidence and accuracy in the play-action passing game. 

Crete-Monee QB Isaiah Rucker (Sr.): Rucker is the old, savvy veteran of the Warriors offense this season. He's a rare four-year varsity contributor and three-year starter. Rucker has thrown for nearly 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 64 percent completion percentage so far in 2017. He remains Crete's unquestioned leader.

Naperville North QB Drake Davis (Sr.): Davis, who transferred in last spring from 1A Bureau Valley, has been electric since midway through the Huskies' stunning come from behind opening week 53-49 win over Edwardsville. Davis has thrown for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season.

Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne (Jr.): Thorne, who transferred into Naperville Central from Metea Valley this summer, has added a big boost to an already strong Redhawks team. Thorne, who is the son of North Central College head coach Jeff Thorne, has a combined 1,061 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns through four games.

Phillips RB/LB Craig Elmore (Sr.): The Wildcats' defensive unit has been just as solid as their offensive counterparts so far this fall. Elmore, who plays both running back and linebacker, has played huge roles in big games on both sides of the football. He is gaining the tough yards as well as breaking big runs when needed. 

Edgy Tim's Preseason All-State Football Team

edgy_tim_st._charles_east_07-31_640x360_1014191683978.jpg

Edgy Tim's Preseason All-State Football Team

With the kickoff of the 2017 IHSA football season upon us, it is time to take a look at my preseason All-State team. Here are the players to keep an eye on as the year unfolds: 

QB Quincy Patterson, Solorio (6-foot-3, 225 pounds): Va Tech commit. Elite 11 player is in line for a huge 2017 season.

RB Fotis Kokosioulis, Maine South (5-foot-8, 170 pounds): NIU commit. Runs with speed, quickness and power.

RB Geno Hess, Peoria (5-foot-9, 185 pounds): Southeast Missouri commit. Highly productive back in the Lions offense.

RB Jarrell Anderson, East St. Louis (5-foot-9, 180 pounds): Undecided. Huge threat is back again for the 7A state champs.

TE Luke Ford, Carterville (6-foot-7, 247 pounds): Undecided. Small school kid has Power 5 offers from across the country.

OL Trevor Keegan, Crystal Lake South (6-foot-5, 290 pounds): Undecided. Junior is already highly sought-after this fall. 

OL Jordyn Slaughter, Belleville Althoff (6-foot-6, 290 pounds): Illinois commit. Great work ethic and has an NFL-sized frame.

OL Jeff Jenkins, Prairie Ridge (6-foot-4, 275 pounds): Iowa commit. Big, strong and a very athletic leader for the Wolves.

OL Bryce Effner, Metea Valley (6-foot-5, 286 pounds): Penn State commit. One of the Midwest's top senior linemen.

OL Nick Marozas, Brother Rice (6-foot-5, 275 pounds): Indiana commit. CCL mauler also a leader on and off the field.

WR Micah Jones, Warren Township (6-foot-5, 205 pounds): Notre Dame commit. Has all the tools. An impressive kid as well.

WR Charles Robinson, Waubonsie Valley (6-foot-4, 220 pounds): NIU commit. Huge, recent steal for the Huskies 2018 class. 

ATH Samson Evans, Prairie Ridge (6-foot-1, 190 pounds): Iowa commit. Humble kid and a very impressive athlete.

K John Richardson, Brother Rice (5-foot-10, 170 pounds): NIU commit. Possesses one of the state's best legs.

KR/PR Justin Hall, Homewood-Flossmoor (5-foot-10, 180 pounds): NIU commit. Versatile multi-positional player. 

[MORE: CSN Preps Power Rankings: Prairie Ridge at #1]

DL Devin O'Rourke, Lincoln-Way East (6-foot-6, 230 pounds): Northwestern commit. Great length/size and huge upside.

DL Noah Shannon, Oswego (6-foot-2, 290 pounds): Iowa commit. Strong, quick and a very physical two-way starter.

DL Isaiah Lee, Nazareth Academy (6-foot-2, 280 pounds): Iowa State commit. Impressive non-stop grinder. 

DL Dashaun Mallory, Bolingbrook (6-foot-3, 272 pounds): Undecided. Quite simply, he just plays at a higher level.

DL Elijah Teague, Marist (6-foot-3, 292 pounds): Minnesota commit. Great mix of speed and power. He will fit in well at Minny.

LB Jack Sanborn, Lake Zurich (6-foot-2, 215 pounds): Wisconsin commit.  Two year All-State player. 

LB Jaylan Alexander, Hoffman Estates (6-foot-1, 225 pounds): Purdue commit. Leader for the Hawks also plays multi-positions.

DB Tyrik Henderson, Glenbard North (5-foot-10, 170 pounds): Minnesota commit. Hard-nosed player and a high level competitor.

DB Clayton Isbell, St. Charles East (6-foot-3, 200 pounds): Undecided. Talented athlete will play on both sides of the football this season.

DB Cameron Mitchell, Bolingbrook (5-foot-10, 175 pounds): Undecided. Class of 2019 standout is already drawing offers. 

DB Sebastian Castro, Richards (6-foot-1, 198 pounds): Undecided. Junior impact performer for one of the state's top programs.

P Caleb Griffin, Danville (6-foot-3, 185 pounds): Undecided. Exceptional leg strength can kick and punt equally well. 

ATH Joe Bonds, DeLaSalle (6-foot-3, 205 pounds): Western Michigan commit. Could play LB/DE at the college level. 

Prairie Ridge Goes For A Drive This Season

Prairie Ridge Goes For A Drive This Season

You might be wondering why Prairie Ridge was selected as CSN Chicago's 2017 "Drive" team. A better question: "Why wouldn't they be selected?"

Let's start with their defending state champion status. This is a Wolves team that ran roughshod over the Fox Valley Conference last season en route to a perfect 14-0 record and a Class 6A state title.  In that time, they averaged just over 50 points per game. Their defense held eight of their opponents to a touchdown or less--including three consecutive shutouts.

This much is certain: the entire Fox Valley Conference will be bringing its A-plus game against Prairie Ridge week in and week out this fall.

Can the Wolves get back to the state title game and repeat as 6A champs? Better yet, before anyone can even think of a repeat, can Prairie Ridge escape the first two weeks of the regular season? Cary-Grove and Huntley are solid programs. And they're revenge-minded.

This Prairie Ridge program, featuring head coach Chris Schremp, still believes in running the football early and often. They play a fast and very physical defense. Does any team in Illinois feature an explosive, double-wing option attack offense that also happens to be one of the highest scoring units in the state? You generally don't place double-wing option and high scoring, explosive offense in the same sentence. Then again, most teams aren't Prairie Ridge.

And then there are the personalities. 

At what point of his pregame ritual does mild-mannered, All-State QB Samson Evans change into his Superman costume? If any one player personifies the 2017 version of Superman, it would be Samson Evans. 

Evans, who is already verbally committed to Iowa, seems to be about as level-headed and low-key as any kid you'll meet. But once the game starts, Evans becomes a very dangerous young man when the football is in his hands. 

How unassuming does Evans come off to the analysts? One national recruiting expert told me this after seeing Evans in person for the first time this winter: "He (Evans) looks more like the kid at Jewel who bagged my groceries," right before seeing Evans fire off yet another impressive 40 yard dash.

Does senior offensive tackle Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) wear anything else these days besides Iowa gear? These are the pressing questions we need to have answered this fall on "Drive."

Also, are we finally seeing the Fox Valley Conference get its due via Drive? 

Long gone are the olden days of the Fox Valley Conference when McHenry of the 1990s and early 2000s would post weekly 40-point running clock blowout wins week in and week out. Cary-Grove is still Cary-Grove. The Trojans want to just pound the football and all opposing teams. Huntley, who continues to inch closer and closer to becoming an 8A power, would like nothing better than to beat the Wolves.

The new Fox Valley continues to be one of the most competitive conferences-- and it also feeds three separate classes come state playoff time (8A thru 6A). 

But the best part about Prairie Ridge football and the FVC is still about the traditions, namely Friday night football. It's part of the area's fabric. The schools are big enough to compete with any conference regardless of size. And yet, they're still small enough to not lose that all-important local community connection that only high school football provides.